Laura Winter is a well-known sports broadcaster, commentator and journalist, who covers a variety of sports including swimming, cycling, rowing, F1 and rugby and has presented at a number of major sporting events. She has also featured on BBC Sport, Sky Sports F1, Eurosport, ITV4 and BT Sport amongst others.

Laura’s passion and enjoyment for sport started young when she was a competitive swimmer for 12 years, and this led her to her first job as a lifeguard, which she did alongside being a swimming teacher. She talks very enthusiastically about her time as a lifeguard, and we caught up with her to ask her about her time as a lifeguard. See her answers below: 

Why did you choose to be a lifeguard?

I was a competitive swimmer and, it was a natural progression - transforming my sport and passion into my first job as a teenager, alongside swimming teaching too. I was always someone who wanted to be fiercely independent, and there was no question about me working as soon as I turned 16, working at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham during the summer.

Where and how long were you a lifeguard?

I worked at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham, for five seasons, from April to September each year. I adored working outside, even when boiling hot or indeed very cold, or raining! I spent so much of my time indoors swimming drenched in chlorine, it was lovely to be at an outdoor pool. 

What skills have you used since being a lifeguard that you learnt or developed as a lifeguard?

Undoubtedly lifeguarding is not an ordinary first job. You have an immense responsibility - not just for your own performance and standards at work - but also for other people’s lives. Stepping up to more responsibility, shouldering it, and embracing that is something I learnt very quickly on the job and still pride myself in today. I always had a strong work ethic both at school and in the pool, but working long hours lifeguarding, cleaning the changing rooms and toilets, and the pool itself, as well as dealing with members of the public on a daily basis really cemented it in me. It was also a wonderfully supportive team environment too - you knew there was no question - everyone had your back. That is a great first job to have. It also means some of the people I was working with 15 (!) years ago, are still friends to this today. I loved being a lifeguard. 

Would you recommend lifeguarding as a career, if yes why?

Without question! Yes, you work hard, yes, you have some responsibility, and, sometimes that can be scary as a young person. But, it teaches valuable life lessons, work ethic, drive, teamwork and makes you feel that you truly have purpose and value at work - you are not just one tiny cog in a big machine but a key part of a team that functions to keep people safe. That is a really empowering thing to do as a teenager, or at any age.

What did you enjoy most about being a lifeguard?

The team environment without a doubt. Working outdoors, with like-minded people who became great friends, was a joy and, I really looked forward to going to work every day. I loved the responsibility, I felt valued and important and that I had a purpose, within a strong team. 

Do you have any words of advice for anybody thinking of starting a career as a lifeguard?

DO IT! Have faith in yourself, work hard, and be prepared that you may potentially come faced with life-and-death situations - it’s part of the job. But if you can handle that responsibility and love to contribute to a common goal as part of a team, it’s the most fulfilling, life-affirming, empowering and fun job for anyone.